AUSTIN (KXAN) — With Halloween less than one month away, what may seem like clowning around has Austin-area schools on high alert after numerous threats made over the weekend.
In the past week, several local schools have investigated social media threats made by people dressed as clowns against the schools or claims of clown sightings on campus. Those threats increased this past weekend on social media for these Austin-area schools:
- Austin High School
- Eastside Memorial High School
- LASA High School
- McCallum High School
- LBJ High School
- Reagan Early College High School
- Kealing Middle School
- Martin Middle School
- O. Henry Middle School
“Threats of any kind against our school, students and staff will be investigated immediately and are not tolerated. We encourage our community to report threatening behavior of any kind so police may investigate and we can work together to keep our campus safe,” said Austin ISD in a letter to parents and students.
AISD Police Chief Eric Mendez described the kind of threats he’s seeing: “Some of the threats can be ‘we’ll be at your campus on this date or at this time, we’re going to be there to do harm to people, we’re going to be there to kidnap people.'”
Mendez says they can’t discard any one threat and have responded by beefing up security around campus. Next, they get officers on the internet trail.
“Just because you post it on social media and you delete it or take it down, doesn’t mean it goes away,” Chief Mendez said. AISD police are enlisting the help of the Austin Regional Intelligence Center, trained at tracking down terroristic threats.
Mary Ochoa, who works as “Lulu the Clown” in Austin, says she was concerned at first of how it would affect business. “The calls are coming in so I think people really do know the difference,” she said.
Last week, Hays CISD also reported a clown threat against Lehman High School, which turned out to be a hoax. The district doesn’t believe there is any credible threat to the school.
Manor ISD, received student reports of a clown walking around Manor High School. The district said they found no evidence of a clown on campus, but their school resource officers would continue to monitor the school.
Del Valle High School also sent a letter home to parents indicating they were aware of a rumor about clowns threatening the school’s security.
San Marcos CISD said in response to the non-specific Twitter threats directed at San Marcos High School, students were brought inside from their outdoor activities and the district increased monitoring of the campus perimeter.
In Houston, KPRC reported threats made against schools posted on a Facebook page called “Aint Clowin Around.” According to the group, they planned to go to Houston schools on Friday to kidnap students or kill teachers.
On Sept. 25 in Reading, Pennsylvania, police say a teenager was stabbed to death after someone wearing a clown mask may have provoked a confrontation, according to the local NBC affiliate.